Brits must wait for summer holiday news as Covid picture ‘still too bleak’

Europe’s Covid fight is "still too bleak" for Brits to book summer holidays with any certainty, sources claim.

Travel companies are urging holidaymakers to get something down in the diary but government insiders suggest we are no closer to a fixed date of the UK’s borders re-opening.

Restrictions to travel will be reviewed next week as part of Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, but officials are not expected to conclude anything other than it being too soon to plan any firm changes.

The Sun cites government sources as saying: "The picture is still too bleak to make a clear decision."

On April 5, the Prime Minister is set to give more information about foreign travel, a week before the government's global travel task force is due to report.

But sources reportedly told the newspaper of that timetable: "Don’t expect a firm date then."

Europe is battling a third wave of the Covid pandemic, with earlier reports suggesting that foreign travel to the continent might not be available until August.

Countries such as France, Spain and Italy have also been plagued by a slow vaccine rollout, in stark contrast to the rapid deployment of jabs in the UK.

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Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the prospect of foreign holidays had not been completely ruled out this summer.

"The door is not shut, it's just too early to say," he told ITV's This Morning.

It comes amid fears of a new wave of the disease spreading from Europe.

France is currently experiencing 36,000 cases a day, while there are 22,000 a day in Italy and 16,000 a day in Germany. The UK recorded 4,654 cases on Sunday.

Another 23 people died from coronavirus, while the number of first vaccine doses topped 30m.

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The UK is bracing for another wave of infections at some point, mostly among the unvaccinated, but some scientists have suggested this will not be until autumn or winter.

At a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister acknowledged it had been a "big day" for many people as some restrictions ease and they were able to see friends and family outdoors for the first time since the latest controls were imposed.

However, he said it was still not clear how "robust" the defences provided by the vaccination programme would prove if the rise in infections on the continent was repeated in the UK.

"What we don't know is exactly how strong our fortifications now are, how robust our defences are against another wave," he said.

"We have seen what is happening with our European friends. Historically, at least there has been a time lag and then we have had a wave ourselves.

"That's why I stress the importance of everybody maintaining the discipline people have shown for so long."

His warning was echoed by the chief medical officer from England, Professor Chris Whitty, who said there was a "high likelihood" cases would rise as lockdown restrictions were steadily lifted according to the timetable set out in the Government's road map.

He said that while most of those at the greatest risk of death or serious illness, had now received the vaccine, the disease spread most rapidly among younger age groups who had yet to receive the jab.

There were already signs of an increase in infections among children of school-age following the reopening of schools in England earlier this month.

However, Prof Whitty said the impact should be "modest" if people continue to follow social-distancing guidelines.

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